Microsoft announces a new Windows 10 build and everyone but you are getting their devices updated. When you check the Windows Update section in the Settings app, Windows says your device is up-to-date. Of course, there’s a new Windows version but you’re stuck on an older version. We explain why this happens, and how you can force a Windows 10 update.
Microsoft rolls out Windows 10 updates in trickles—not everyone receives an update at the same time. When a Windows Update is available to the public, you may get the update immediately, or it may take days sometimes. However, if the delay is running into weeks or taking longer than usual, the troubleshooting techniques in this guide will help you force install a Windows 10 update on your device.
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Do You Have the Latest Windows 10 Version?
Before you try to force install an update, you need to first confirm that your device truly isn’t up-to-date. Go to Settings > System > About and scroll to the Windows specifications section, and take note of the OS build and version.
Now, head to the official Windows 10 release information page, and compare your PC’s OS details with the latest Windows 10 version and build number on the list. If you don’t have the latest version, proceed to the next section to learn how to manually trigger a Windows update.
Force Window 10 to Update
There are several factors that delay a Windows 10 update. It could be due to low storage space, failure of essential system processes, and so on. If storage is the problem, the Windows Update agent will display an error informing you to free up additional storage space. Other factors, on the other hand, can be difficult to pinpoint.
We’ve compiled some possible ways to force install a Windows Update by eliminating issues causing the delay.
1. Restart the Windows Update Service
This service handles the delivery of software updates to Windows devices. Your PC may fail to automatically download or install a new update if the service is malfunctioning or inactive. Restarting the Windows Update Service can force Windows 10 to install an update. Follow the steps below to get it done.
1. Type services in the Windows Search bar and select Services in the results.
2. Right-click Windows Update and select Restart.
Return to the Windows Updates section in the Settings app and check if a new update is available for your computer.
2. Restart the Background Intelligent Transfer Service
The Windows Update Service depends on the Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) to download updates from the Microsoft servers. Should BITS stop working, your PC may be unable to download and install updates. Restart the service and check if that fixes the problem.
1. Type services in the Windows Search bar and select Services.
2. Right-click Background Intelligent Transfer Service and select Restart.
If the service doesn’t start, try other troubleshooting techniques in this guide on fixing issues with the Background Intelligent Transfer Service.
3. Delete the Windows Update Folder
The Software Distribution folder houses the necessary files required to install Windows on your computer. If you’re yet to receive a globally available update, deleting the content of the folder could force Windows to acquire and install the latest OS build. Windows will automatically recreate the folder and re-download the files needed to update your PC.
Before you proceed, there’s something important to note. The Software Distribution folder also holds files containing your PC’s Windows Update history. Therefore, deleting the folder means you can’t roll back to a previous Windows version.
Additionally, updating your computer may take longer than usual. That’s because the Windows Update Service must first repopulate the Software Distribution folder before it installs any available update.
To delete the Software Distribution folder or its content, you need to first stop the Windows Update Service and Background Intelligent Transfer Service.
1. Right-click the Start menu and select Command Prompt (Admin).
2. Paste the command below in the console and press Enter to stop the Windows Update Service
net stop wuauserv
3. Paste the next command and press Enter. That’ll terminate the Background Intelligent Transfer Service.
net stop bits
4. Launch the File Explorer and go to Local Disk (C:) > Windows > Software Distribution and delete all items in the folder.
If you can’t delete the files, or you’re getting an error message, restart your computer and try again. After deleting the Software Distribution files or folder, proceed to the next step to restart the background services you stopped earlier.
5. Open Command Prompt as an administrator and paste the command below in the console to restart the Windows Update Service.
net start wuauserv
6. Afterward, paste this next command and press Enter to restart the Background Intelligent Transfer Service.
net start bits
Windows will automatically re-download the files required to update your computer to the latest OS build. Now check if the latest Windows build is available.
4. Perform Windows Update Cleanup
When you install newer Windows 10 builds, Windows stores the system files of older updates on your device. This lets you uninstall an update or roll back the operating system to a previous version. However, these system files often consume storage space and cause problems with future Windows Updates.
Use the Disk Cleanup tool to perform a Windows Update cleanup and try installing the update again.
1. Type disk cleanup in the Windows Search bar and select Disk Cleanup in the result.
Wait for the tool to calculate how much freeable space you have on your PC. This might take some seconds, or minutes—depending on your PC’s storage size and configuration.
2. Click the Clean up system files button.
The Disk Cleanup tool will recalculate the freeable storage space on your local disk, taking system files into account this time.
3. Check Windows Update Cleanup, uncheck other options, and select OK to proceed.
5. Run Windows Update Troubleshooter
If you still can’t install a Windows Update after deleting all associated files, try using the built-in troubleshooting tool to diagnose and fix issues delaying the update. Go to Settings > Update & Security > Troubleshoot > Windows Update and click the Run the troubleshooter button.
The Windows Update Troubleshooter will scan for issues preventing your computer from installing an update.
When the diagnosis is complete, go to the Windows Update menu and check if you can now install an update. If nothing changes, restart your computer and try again.
6. Use the Windows Update Assistant
Not only can the Windows Update Assistant force install an update, but it’ll also run a compatibility scan to ensure your computer meets the requirements for the latest Windows 10 build.
Head to the Windows 10 Download page on your browser and select the Update now button to download the Windows Update Assistant setup file.
Double-click the setup file to install and launch the Windows Update Assistant. Select Update now to proceed.
The tool will check if your device is compatible with the latest Windows 10 version. Select Next and the Update Assistant will download and install the update on your PC. This may take a while, depending on the size of the update, your internet speed, and other factors.
Sometimes, You Can’t Force Windows Updates
You may be unable to force a Windows Update if Microsoft places a Safeguard Hold on your PC. A “safeguard hold” is a technique used to temporarily prevent users from installing an unstable or potentially harmful update.
So, how do you identify a safeguard hold? Go to Settings > Updates & Security > Windows Update. If there’s a safeguard hold on your computer, you’ll find this error message on the page: “The Windows 10 Update is on its way. Once it’s ready for your device, you’ll see the update available on this page.”
Microsoft strongly advises against opting out of a safeguard hold—i.e., manually installing an update when there are known performance issues with the update. Wait until the issues with the update are fixed or when the safeguard is lifted.
If you want to install the update now, select Start > Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update , and then select Check for updates. If updates are available, install them.How do you Update Windows 10 when you don't have enough space? ›
If you cannot free up enough space on the primary drive to upgrade to Windows 10, you can attach a USB key (16GB or greater) or an external USB hard drive to the computer to finish the upgrade.How do you fix Windows 10 could not complete the Update? ›
- Restart your computer.
- Start your Windows in Safe Mode.
- Undo the recent changes with a System Restore point.
- Check the memory of your Windows PC.
- Perform a clean boot.
- Open your Recycle Bin and remove deleted files.
- Open your Downloads and delete any files you don't need. ...
- If you still need more space, Open your Storage Use.
- This will open Settings > System > Storage.
- Select Temporary Files and delete any files you don't need.
- Open your phone's Settings app.
- Near the bottom, tap System. System update.
- You'll see your update status. Follow any steps on the screen.
- Open the Google Play Store app .
- At the top right, tap the profile icon.
- Tap Manage apps & device. Apps with an update available are labeled "Update available."
- Tap Update.
Windows 10 21H2 system requirements
Hard drive space: 32GB clean install or new PC (16 GB for 32-bit or 20 GB for 64-bit existing installation).
How big is the Windows 10 upgrade? At present the Windows 10 upgrade is about 3 GB in size. Further updates may be required after the upgrade is complete, for example to install additional Windows security updates or applications that need updating for Windows 10 compatibility.How do I free up useless space on my computer? ›
- Select Start > Settings > System > Storage > Cleanup recommendations. Open Storage settings.
- Select the temporary files, unused files, files synced to the cloud, or unused apps you want to remove, then select the Clean up button for each section.
Lack of drive space: If your computer doesn't have enough free drive space to complete a Windows 10 update, the update will stop, and Windows will report a failed update. Clearing some space will usually do the trick. Corrupt update files: Deleting the bad update files will usually fix this problem.
Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) is a command-line tool that is used to service Windows images. You can use DISM image management commands to mount and get information about Windows image (. wim) files, Full-flash utility (FFU) files, or virtual hard disks (VHD).Is Win 11 better than win 10? ›
Windows 11 is worth the update for most people. It comes with a wide range of new features, performance improvements, and design changes. As the latest Windows OS, it usually gets more attention than Windows 10, too. There's not too much risk in upgrading to Windows 11, either.How much space does Windows 10 20H2 need? ›
We are upgrading our Windows 10 machines from 1909 to 20? H2 using the Feature update for 20H2 via SCCM. This requires a minimum of 20GB free space to start the upgrade.How do I force a specific Windows Update? ›
Select Start > Control Panel > Security > Security Center > Windows Update in Windows Security Center. Select View Available Updates in the Windows Update window. The system will automatically check if there's any update that need to be installed, and display the updates that can be installed onto your computer.How do I manually fix Windows updates? ›
- Open Settings on Windows 10.
- Click on Update & Security.
- Click on Troubleshoot.
- Click the “Additional troubleshooters” option.
- Under the “Get up and running” section, select the Windows Update option.
- Click the Run the troubleshooter button.
Open Windows Update by swiping in from the right edge of the screen (or, if you're using a mouse, pointing to the lower-right corner of the screen and moving the mouse pointer up), select Settings > Change PC settings > Update and recovery > Windows Update. If you want to check for updates manually, select Check now.How do I manually run the update Service? ›
- Press the Windows logo Key+R to open the Run box.
- Type services. msc in the Run box, and then press Enter.
- Right-click Windows Update in the Services management console, and then select Stop. ...
- After Windows Update stops, right-click Windows Update, and then select Start.
Is it safe to install Windows 10 21H2, November 2021 Update? Best answer: Yes, and here's why and what you should do.Is 21H2 the last Windows 10? ›
Windows 10 version 21H2 will be supported until June 13, 2023, and Microsoft announced last year that the OS will only get one major update per going forward until it reaches end of support in 2025. This means that we should get Windows 10 version 22H2 later this year for users that can't upgrade to Windows 11.What is the difference between 21H1 and 21H2? ›
Windows 10, version 21H2 is also known as the Windows 10 November 2021 Update. It includes all features and fixes in previous cumulative updates to Windows 10, version 21H1.
If your PC has a 64-bit Windows™ 10 operating system (OS), at least 4GB of memory is a must. You can easily get by with 4GB as long as you aren't playing advanced games and tackling large data files. Of course, it wouldn't hurt to jump up to 8GB if you want your computer to run as smoothly as possible.Is 2GB RAM enough for Windows 10? ›
2GB is the minimum system requirement for the 64-bit version of Windows 10; as such, it's still recommended that you run more RAM than this.Is Windows 11 more GB than Windows 10? ›
On average, Windows 11 uses about 4 GB of RAM.
This requires a fair amount of RAM to run, so it's not surprising that Windows 11 uses more memory at some points. While it's true that Windows 11 uses more RAM than Windows 10, it doesn't mean that it's a bad operating system.
Windows suggests different types of files you can remove, including recycle bin files, Windows Update Cleanup files, upgrade log files, device driver packages, temporary internet files, and temporary files.What removes unnecessary files from the computer? ›
Remove junk files with Disk Cleanup
Click Start > File Explorer > This PC (Windows 10). Right-click your main hard drive (usually the C: drive) and select Properties. Click the Disk Cleanup button and you'll see a list of items that can be removed, including temporary files and more.
- Select File Explorer from the taskbar and find the files you want to move.
- Under This PC in the menu on the left, select a folder to see what files are saved in it. ...
- To see the size of the files in a folder, select View from the taskbar, then select Details.
Add Disk Space
Windows won't be able to install updates if your computer does not have enough disk space. Consider adding more space if there's no more room in your hard drive for a system update. As an alternative, you can also perform disk cleanup. Search for the Disk Cleanup utility and run the program.
The DISM tool scans for inconsistencies on your computer and fixes them as it's being installed. It creates a log file that captures any issues that the tool found or fixed. It won't affect any of your apps or data. So, you can run the tool to fix the error.What does SFC Scannow actually do? ›
The sfc /scannow command will scan all protected system files, and replace corrupted files with a cached copy that is located in a compressed folder at %WinDir%\System32\dllcache. The %WinDir% placeholder represents the Windows operating system folder.Should I run DISM or SFC first? ›
Should I run DISM or SFC first? SFC is a tool for repairing common Windows files and system structures. SFC will scan the integrity of all protected operating system files, including those that are not on your hard drive. It should be used before running DISM.
- Windows 11's Hardware Requirements Are Too Stringent. ...
- Changing Default Apps in Windows 11 Is Too Hard. ...
- You Have to Sign in to a Microsoft Account to Use Windows 11. ...
- Windows 11's Start Menu Is Less Usable Than Windows 10's.
Your PC must have 9 GB of free disk space to download Windows 11.Can I go back to Windows 10 from Windows 11? ›
Although you can easily upgrade a Windows 10 PC to Windows 11, preserving installed apps, settings, and data files, you can't do the reverse. If you want to "downgrade" from Windows 11 to Windows 10, you have to do a clean install, which requires backing up and restoring your data files and reinstalling all your apps.How much RAM does Windows 10 need to run smoothly? ›
4GB RAM. Microsoft recommends a minimum of 1GB RAM for Windows 10. However, it requires 4 GB RAM to run smoothly.What is the minimum GB for Windows 10? ›
The 32GB or larger drive requirement is set to leave space for users to install apps and to keep data on the device. Installing Windows or updating from a previous version of Windows on devices with less than 32GB storage will continue to work if the device has enough free space available.How big should a Windows 10 install be? ›
Consider the fact that a fresh install for Windows 10 takes up storage space of about 15 GB. Most of this 15 GB is composed of reserved and system files, whereas a space of 1 GB is taken up by the default games and apps that come pre-shipped with Windows 10.How do I manually update Windows updates? ›
- Open Start ⇒ Microsoft System Center ⇒ Software Center.
- Go to the Updates section menu (left menu)
- Click Install All (top right button)
- After the updates have installed, restart the computer when prompted by the software.
- From the local machine, open services.msc.
- Find the Windows Update service, right-click and go to Properties. Stop the service before making any changes.
- Set the Startup type to Manual and then click Apply/Ok to save the change.
Open the command prompt, by hitting the Windows key and type “cmd”. Right click on the Command Prompt icon and choose “Run as administrator”. 3. In the command prompt type (but, don't hit enter) “wuauclt.exe /updatenow“ (this is the command to force Windows to check for updates).How do I force Windows Update from command prompt? ›
Step 1: Enter wuauclt /detectnow to check for updates. Step 2: Enter wuauclt /updatenow to start installing the detected updates. Step 3: Enter wuauclt /detectnow /updatenow to check, download and install updates. After doing these instructions step by step, you can update your Windows.
- go to this link: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-downlo...
- Select Download tool, and select Run. ...
- On the License terms page, if you accept the license terms, select Accept.
- On the What do you want to do? ...
- After downloading and installing, it should fix the issue.
- Click Start, click Run, type wscui. cpl, and then click OK.
- Click Automatic Updates.
- The following options are available: Automatic (recommended) This option lets you select the day and the time that updates are automatically downloaded and installed.
- Free up some drive space so you can run updates. ...
- Restart to apply installed updates. ...
- Run Windows Update again. ...
- Disconnect external hardware. ...
- Update third-party drivers. ...
- Check Device Manager for errors. ...
- I received an error code while updating. ...
- My update got to 51-99% and won't complete installation.